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Repercussions of a fatal farming accident

This summer we shared a tragic story about a Michigan high school student who lost is life in a fatal accident while working on a farm. Now, the young man's mother has created an organization that is dedicated to promoting farm worker safety particularly in respect to working around silos. After the accident the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the farm for failing in its duty to maintain a healthy work place, free from hazards that could cause potential physical harm or death.

The accident occurred on Memorial Day of this year. The 18-year-old was apparently working inside the silo trying to clear some corn that had become stuck to the sides. At some point the young man fell and became trapped in the silo. Another farm worker and additional rescuers attempted to free the young man but were unable to extricate him from under the weight of the corn until it was too late.

In response to farm accidents involving juveniles, the U.S. Department of Labor is recommending a number of changes to the way that child labor laws regulate agricultural work. Among other regulations it would prohibit juveniles under 16 from working elevated silos and grain bins, it would also prohibit them from suing power-driven equipment except in the case of student learners.

But not everyone agrees that these proposed changes are the best way to promote safety for juvenile farm employees. In fact, the mother of the deceased teen explained that would prefer that we focus on having farmers take steps to ensure that those tasks are safe and that they are properly educating their young employees. In addition she indicated that she feels it is important to empower young workers to speak up if they are asked to conduct a task that they believe is dangerous.

Source: Bay City News "Mother who lost son in farming accident against proposed changes to agricultural child labor laws," Holly Setter, Dec. 12, 2011

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